Weekend in Bulldog athletics
Three Concordia squads will be in competition on Saturday – men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling. The women’s basketball showdown between the top-ranked Bulldogs and fourth-ranked Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, headlines the weekend’s events.
Wrestling: at Simpson College Invite, Saturday, 9 a.m.
The Simpson College Invite will take place in Indianola, Iowa, and features a smaller field than what Concordia saw at its previous tournament at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 17. The Simpson Invite includes the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked team in Grand View (Iowa), which boasts top-ranked individuals in three weight classes. The field also includes NCAA Division III No. 1 Wartburg (Iowa) and No. 4 Coe (Iowa). Concordia freshman Austin Starkey (157) will look to carry over the momentum he built by defeating fourth-ranked Robert Eklund of York. The same goes for sophomore Seth Crane (184), who notched the Bulldogs’ only pin in their 36-12 loss versus No. 17 York on Thursday night. Crane and senior Frank Ayala (Hwt.) and junior Alex Stepanek (133) are tied atop the team with five wins apiece. Head coach Dana Vote’s grapplers will need to be on their game to compete at a high level in another tournament filled with quality opponents.
Women’s Basketball: No. 1 Concordia (9-0, 3-0 GPAC) at No. 4 Morningside (6-0, 2-0 GPAC), Saturday, 5 p.m.
Opponent: Fourth-ranked Morningside is one of eight undefeated teams remaining in NAIA Division II women’s basketball. The Mustangs have built an impressive early season resume that includes wins over then No. 2 Northwestern (72-70), No. 8 Grand View (85-55) and No. 18 Hastings (74-66). Like Concordia, Morningside has been dominant in the early going with an average win margin of 21.3 points per game. Head coach Jamie Sale’s squad has blistered the nets with 45.1 percent shooting from the field – a figure that ranks 17th nationally. Battle-tested senior guard Chelsie Trask leads an attack that loves to fire from 3-point range (10.1 triples per game as a team – third nationally). Trask has the green light to launch from deep and leads the team with 15.7 points per game and 46.7 percent (14-for-30) shooting from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Ashlynn Muhl is the team’s top performer down low. She averages 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Outlook: Morningside handed Concordia one of the Bulldogs’ two conference losses last season, but head coach Drew Olson’s squad rebounded to win the last two meetings of the season, including a 73-66 decision in the GPAC tournament championship game. While Morningside has been impressive so far, Concordia has certainly lived up to its No. 1 national ranking. The Bulldogs rank in the top five in the nation in scoring margin (plus-38.6), turnover margin (plus-15.7), scoring (95.8 ppg), steals (20.7 per game), 3-pt field goals per game (10.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2). With seven players averaging 8.2 points or more per game, Concordia features a well-rounded offensive attack led by the 15.9 scoring average of Kristen Conahan. Morningside must always be aware of Beth Kohmetscher, whose 30 made 3-point field goals are the second most in the nation. The winner of this game will join No. 5 Briar Cliff (8-0, 4-0 GPAC) with an early leg up in the GPAC conference title race.
Men’s Basketball: Concordia (5-2, 2-1 GPAC) at Morningside (3-5, 1-1 GPAC), Saturday, 7 p.m.
Opponent: Morningside, coached by Jim Sykes, enters Saturday’s game with consecutive losses coming to No. 7 Northwestern (109-89) and to NCAA Division III Buena Vista (95-82). The Mustangs, picked to finish fifth in the GPAC by league coaches, have already played three ranked teams and are 1-2 in those contests. They defeated then No. 18 McPherson (Kan.) 87-61 on Nov. 9 and got their lone conference win with a triumph over Hastings (88-75) on Nov. 17. Statistically, Morningside takes care of the basketball (seventh nationally with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.43) and likes to put the ball up from deep (9.0 3-point field goals per game – 11th in NAIA Division II). Junior guard Danny Rudeen is the GPAC’s leading scoring with an average of 20.9 points per game. Rudeen shoots 56.1 percent from the field, 40.5 percent from three and 88.2 percent from the foul line. Teammates Tanner Miller (11.3) and Trent Miller (10.4) also average double figures in scoring.
Outlook: Like Concordia’s first three GPAC games, this contest figures to go down to the wire. The Mustangs swept a pair of meetings last season, ending the Bulldogs’ three-game win streak in the series. Concordia is equipped to handle the rugged, tightly-contested play associated with the GPAC, as evidenced by its recent three-game win streak in which each battle was decided by exactly three points. The Bulldogs will continue to rely on the steady play of senior post Porter Birtell, who is sixth in the GPAC in scoring (17.7 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (63.0). Concordia got a welcome addition on Wednesday with the return of senior forward Beau Smith from injury. Smith went for 17 points in the loss to Midland and has averaged 13.0 points in his three games this season. With all GPAC teams sporting at least one conference loss, a win will allow the Bulldogs to keep pace with the conference’s elite.
30 November 2012
Concordia senior Frank Ayala (Hwt.) on left.